By Amanda Stephenson
THE CANADIAN PRESS
CALGARY -Sixteen Indigenous communities along the Coastal GasLink pipeline route have signed option agreements with TC Energy Corp. to acquire a 10 per cent equity stake in the project.
In a news release, Chief Corrina Leween of the Cheslatta Carrier Nation called the signing of the agreements, announced Wednesday by TC Energy, a “historic milestone.”
“For many of us, this marks the first time that our Nations have been included as owners in a major natural resource project that is crossing our territories,” Leween said.
Financial terms of the agreements were not disclosed. The 16 communities that have confirmed their support for the option agreements are represented by two groups, the CGL First Nations Limited Partnership and the FN CGL Pipeline Limited Partnership.
The Coastal GasLink pipeline, which is being constructed by Calgary-based TC Energy and is currently more than 60 per cent complete, will carry natural gas across 670 kilometres from the Groundbirch area west of Dawson Creek, B.C., to a liquefied natural gas export facility being constructed by LNG Canada and its partners near Kitimat, B.C.
The options deals with First Nations come after Indigenous groups expressed an interest in becoming owners in Coastal GasLink together with Alberta Investment Management Corp., KKR and TC Energy.
The equity options are exercisable once the pipeline begins commercial service, subject to customary regulatory approvals and consents.
While many Indigenous people support the project, Coastal GasLink has been strongly opposed by others.
In early 2020, opposition by Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs over the pipeline being built in their territory in northwestern B.C. set off Canada-wide rail blockades by their supporters that stalled parts of the country’s economy.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 9, 2022.